University Senate             

April 27, 2001

 

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE: 2000–2001

 

Among the recurrent responsibilities of the Education Committee is the review of proposals for the creation of new academic programs, institutes, and departments within the University.

            Separate subcommittees studied proposals for two new programs, three new institutes, and a record number of seven new departments. After review by the committee all but one of these proposals were recommended for Senate approval.

 

New programs

1. Certification of Professional Achievement in TESOL (Special Programs Division)

               This non-degree program required approval by the committee only. It was approved on October 6, 2000, after several committee meetings and discussions with members of the administration of Teachers College. The issue of concern was that this program would seem to violate the historical division of responsibility for TESOL between Teachers College and the American Language Program in the Special Programs Division. While the committee reconfirmed the principle that other units of the University must not encroach upon the core mission of Teachers College, it did approve this proposal for a summer program, when it was clear that Teachers College did not intend to offer a comparable program. The committee further stated its opinion that a qualified faculty should not be denied its request to teach a unique program to a special targeted audience that is not in competition with any of the programs that Teachers College offers or intends to offer.

               The committee reported its action to the Senate on October 27, 2000.

2. Certificate in Public Policies Studies (SIPA)--approval pending (4/27/2001)

 

New institutes

1. Institute at Reid Hall (Paris, France)--approved 11/17/00

2. Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy--approved 1/26/01

3. Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology--approval pending (4/27/2001)

Dr. Myron Hofer (professor of psychiatry, and proposed first director of the institute) met with the committee to answer several questions about the proposal, and to explain the mission of the new institute as well as its relationship with similar institutes at other universities.

 

Institutes and centers

The committee started an inventory of known and listed institutes and centers in the University. It also reviewed extant definitions of institutes and centers. Institutes require approval by the Senate and are authorized by the President on authority of the Trustees. Centers do not rise to this level of review and approval, although a central registry would be desirable.

            It has become clear that since 1975 the distinction between institutes and centers has become blurred. This situation is confusing to all, especially those who propose to create such an administrative unit, as well as those who are charged with the review of such proposals. The committee, in consultation with the Vice Provost, is developing a working definition and has set preliminary thresholds of size, interdisciplinary complexity, and educational activity to assist it in its charge to review proposals for new institutes.

 

New departments

1. Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (Arts and Sciences)--approved 12/8/00

2. Department of Biostatistics (Public Health)--approved 1/26/01

3. Department of Environmental Health Sciences (Public Health)--approved 1/26/01

4. Department of Epidemiology (Public Health)--approved 1/26/01

5. Department of Health Policy and Management (Public Health)--approved 1/26/01

6. Department of Population and Family Health (Public Health)--approved 1/26/01

7. Department of Sociomedical Sciences (Public Health)--approved 1/26/01

The six new departments in the School of Public Health represent conversions of previously existing divisions in the School. The committee was aided in its review by Dean Allan Rosenfield and Vice Dean Andrew Davidson of the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, who met with the committee to answer all questions that had arisen, and to address any concerns about this major change in the administrative structure of the School of Public Health.

 

Five-year reviews of newly approved programs

A questionnaire was developed and approved by the committee to survey new programs five years after their approval by the Senate. The survey is intended to assist the committee in determining whether a program has been implemented as originally proposed, whether it has met its purpose, how many students have applied, matriculated, and, when applicable, completed the program.

 

Dual-degree programs

This topic has been an important action item for the committee during the year and will continue so in the year 2001–2002. Concerns have been expressed by student senators about several issues that affect students who are enrolled in dual degree programs. Most of these are graduate programs, but similar issues were identified by students in the 3-2 and 4-1 programs of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

            The committee met with three guest students and Deputy Registrar John Carter for a discussion of these issues and recommendations for possible solutions.

While the number of graduate dual-degree students is relatively small, there appears to be a pervasive flaw in the administration of such programs, which may be a result of the failure of the schools involved to take ownership. There is a strong need for the creation of administrative and advising structures that address the dual degree students as a separate group with its own identity and needs in academic advising, student services, and community.

            The Education Committee set up two subcommittees, one for graduate dual-degree programs and one for undergraduate (3-2 and 4-1 Engineering) programs.

            The former has developed a survey to ascertain the current status of the administration and the requirements of dual-degree programs. The survey was sent out on March 9, 2001, with a request for replies by March 23, 2001. The subcommittee will review the responses and report to the education committee in May. Its recommendations will guide the actions on this subject by the committee in the year 2001-2002.

            The latter met with a representative of the administration of the SEAS. The administration exhibited awareness of the issues that were raised, and already had made plans to address them. It is our expectation that the willingness of the administration of SEAS to resolve the issues will do much to alleviate the problems. The subcommittee will meet again next year to review the implementation of the proposed changes and their impact on the administration of the program.

 

Core class size

The committee followed up on an earlier meeting by once again inviting Dean Kathryn Yatrakis to a meeting to discuss the impact of the larger undergraduate class on the average section size in the core. The sections have not increased in size, but have increased in number. Financial adjustments are made by Arts and Sciences, when it becomes apparent that another section is needed.

            Concerns were raised in committee about the number of available and suitable classrooms to accommodate the increased number of sections. Another issue is the prospect of a reduction in the number of graduate students, which may exacerbate possible staffing problems in the future, especially in logic and rhetoric.

            Professor Hervé Varenne served as the committee’s liaison on the Fathom.com subcommittee.

 

Acknowledgements

The Committee acknowledges with thanks the active participation of Trustee Emerita Anna Longobardo and Carlos Muñoz, alumni representative, in its work. We value their conscientious attendance and valuable input in our deliberations and actions.

 

Education Committee

Letty Moss-Salentijn, chair